Living in New Mexico for almost 10 years will change your palate. Now that I am back in Missouri, I have green chiles shipped each fall to roast and store for the year. Needless to say I was excited to see a restaurant open here serving New Mexican cuisine.
The key thing to know about New Mexican food is the answer to the question: “red or green?” This is in reference to chile peppers and how you want them prepared. I am a die-hard green chile fan. However, for my first trip to the Southwest Diner, I opted for a Christmas (red and green) sausage breakfast burrito served enchilada style (smothered).
The green was the closest thing I’ve had to a typical New Mexican green chile sauce since I left. My only wish was that it was hotter. The red was slightly hotter but still doesn’t pack the flavor or the texture of the green. My preferences to green is based on a few things:
- Better vehicle for the onion / garlic. For those that have read other reviews, I talk a lot about garlic
- Texture – the red can be a little more gritty. I prefer the green since it has pieces of the meat of the chili pepper
- The green is unique to the region and really unlike anything from elsewhere.
I was surprised how much I liked these. At first bite you taste pancake, butter, and syrup. You then notice that the texture is like cornbread and so is the finish / aftertaste. I liked the sweetness to compliment the spice of the red sauce on the burrito. I appreciated these pancakes more with each bite. Before I knew it they were gone.
For those that have not had New Mexican cuisine before, I recommend trying Southwest Diner. The breakfast burrito is the closest thing I have had to a real New Mexico one. If you are planning a trip to New Mexico, this is a great way to introduce yourself to the cuisine. You can learn how to answer “red or green” and try chile at a St. Louis-hot level.
Dive 2 Five Scale – 3. Nice local diner with a very friendly staff. I suggest going early or off hours. When I left there was a wait. It is decorated with several things that reminded me of my days in Albuquerque.